Open for business

Exploring the best shopping streets and local boutiques in Basel, Geneva and Zurich

by

Writer

30 May 2013

With its unique geographical location near the border to France and Germany, Basel offers a compact but diverse shopping scene. On Freie Strasse, you will find high street fashion, accessories and jewellery. If you’ve been there and done that, we recommend Spalenburg and its criss-crossing alleys lined with local boutiques that cannot be found anywhere else.

Erfolg specializes in chic shirts and knitwear all sustainably produced in Switzerland. Its newest Voyage collection is created with 100% organic materials like bioRe® cotton. Environment-conscious shoppers heartily approve of Erfolg’s carbon dioxide free production. With an interesting mix of European labels, Riviera is a breath of fresh air in an industrial city like Basel. This season, silk, cotton and linen in exotic prints create a carefree yet classy – and at times, retro-inspired – style. One of the local favourites is Tarzan with its own label of street fashion. Besides 100% certified organic cotton creations, it also garners selected brands like Suit, Minimum, Beck Söndergaard and leathergoods from Cowboysbag under one roof.

The home of Switzerland’s watch and jewellery industry, the annual Geneva Motor show and numerous diplomatic conventions, Geneva is an international hub where shopping reflects its global identity. This francophone city offers the best of luxury brands, as well as many outdoor markets with local charm.

Lined with luxury boutiques, Rue du Rhône is a glamorous shopping street that you should not miss. From Adler to Apostrophe, Burberry to Boucheron, Chanel to Chaumet, Dior Joaillerie to De Grisogono, Jean-Paul Gaultier to Jaeger-LeCoultre, Zenith to Zilli, you can almost spell the entire alphabet with the brands located here. Explore the arcades along Rue du Rhône too as they are full of dazzling window displays that are not immediately visible from the street front. Besides world-class shopping, why not explore a local 'institution' like the Plainpalais flea market? Do some people-watching and browse the diverse – sometimes downright bizarre – goods on offer, in addition to Swiss and international produce and beautiful flowers.

In an art-loving city like Zurich, shopping is not to be neglected. Just Zurich Main Station itself boasts over 135 boutiques that are open all year round. You can also go to the Old Town to see its antique dealers and trendy shops. On the other side of the River Limmat is the city’s oldest district, Schipfe, where local craftsmen specialize in wood carving, goldsmithery and much more.

The 1.4-kilometre Bahnhofstrasse connecting Zurich Main Station and Lake Zurich is the city's longest and glitziest shopping avenue, with Blancpain, Hackett, Jimmy Choo, Dior and Prada at one end, and Bally, Montblanc, Omega, IWC Schaffhausen and Bucherer at the other. For local designs, head to District 4 and 5 where you will find everything from kitchenware to underwear in over 80 shops and ateliers. Beige designs its own fabrics and knits, and creates every Swiss-made collection in an exclusive quantity. With three shops and online shopping, Street-Files spotlights up-and-coming labels like Sanqvist leathergoods and accessories, Sixpack, Wemoto apparels and many more. Uniqum offers design products from lighting to stationery made by local talents who never cease to surprise. Waldraud welcomes you into their concept store decked out in selected furnishings and fashion created locally and sustainably. From Norwegian jewellery brand Bjorg to acrylic Diamond Lamps by Danish designer Lars Anker, you will find a fascinating world of ideas come true.

Don't forget to check store hours as in Switzerland they often differ from most major cities, so call ahead before leaving the hotel to avoid frustration. If you are short on time or prefer one-stop shopping, there is always Manor department store which is located throughout Switzerland. We hope that our highlight will encourage you to go beyond the traditional chocolatiers and souvenir shops to explore this country’s shopping streets and local boutiques. After all, it is all about great finds!